Wednesday, October 31, 2012

With a Big Heave Ho Up She Goes

Yesterday it was decided that this years giant Pumpkin needed to be snipped from the vine and ready it for the Fourth Annual Neighborhood Giant Pumpkin Parade. Neighbor and local artist Ann Storrs collaborated with her husband Mel an accomplished Master woodcrafter and came up with a cart and ramp so that all that remained was the gathering of muscle.
One thing that is never lacking in our neighborhood is enthusiasm for situations as this and it wasn't long before we amassed a small group of pumpkin pushers and pullers.
The first job was to flip the behemoth over and onto the ramp which was coated in a nice wax so as to keep the momentum going once it was in place on the ramp. Then Mel and I wrapped the large nylon straps around it and pulled while the rest of the group pushed.
2012 Giant pumpkin safely on its cart and in Ann's studio. The next job will be done in private...Carving the beast!

Little Terrorist #2 Brooklyn and I went to my mother and fathers house to retrieve our pumpkin entry which my parents have been babying along.
Not exactly a behemoth but at least it didn't take the entire neighborhood to load it up.


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Priority Mail

Like a child waiting impatiently for Christmas, yesterday finally happened.  That is, the postal delivery finally came.  I was down the way talking to neighbors about their fall garden chores when the van pulled up.  I hurried back home and told the delivery person that I was expecting a "priority" delivery. She smiled and said, "Yep, it's here" and reached into the back of the van, grabbing hold of a small white box she turned toward me and while handing it to me she gave the box a spin as though it were a basketball.  I quickly grabbed it in mid-spin and told her it contained live fish.
I carefully carried my precious cargo into the garden room and sat it on the table so that its inhabitants could settle before I began to open the box.
About a month ago I was standing in front of my office aquarium talking to one of the staff that also is an aquarium enthusiast.  He was telling me about a little known species of fish called the Endler Guppy or Poecilia wingei.  It is a separate species named after Dr. John Endler Professor at the University of Exeter, England.  This little jewel was first discovered in Laguna de Patos in Venezuela by Franklyn F. Bond in 1937 and then rediscovered by Dr. John Endler in 1975 who was the first to successfully introduce a small collection of them to the aquarium trade.  Unfortunately for the wild population the local city dump borders the lagoon and the runoff has virtually wiped out the only known wild population.  The Endler guppy breeds well with the common guppy so in the trade it is very difficult to find true strain Endlers.  So after my conversation in front of the office tank I went on line and found a breeder in southern California of true strain Endlers and purchased three males and three females.
After giving the sealed box a bit of a rest and with box cutter in hand I opened it very carefully and voila!
The next step was to float the bag and contents in the aquarium so the temperature would be the same and then I carefully added small bits of aquarium water so as to slowly adjust the chemistry of the bag water to the chemistry of the aquarium.  It is a slow process but a very necessary one if the fish are to survive without any more undue stress.
(click on photos to enlarge)
Fully grown at about half an inch, the male has all the color.  The female just behind is sort of olive brown but will double her size eventually and will give live birth approximately every 23 days.
My little Endler group for the majority of the day spent it in an upper corner of the aquarium hiding form the other fish but by the evening feeding had joined the rest and seemed quite settled.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Hay Ball Adventure

Michael Shaughnessy, the artist who drove from Portland Maine to Portland Oregon with the Hay ball on the top of his car.

Professor of Art at the University of Southern Maine. Ended his "Hay ball of wonderment" trip at my next door neighbors house, Ann Stores who is a sculptor of some renown herself. Just to Professor Shaughnessy's left is this years giant Pumpkin for the annual pumpkin parade, it weighs just over 600 pounds. Not sure how much the hay ball weighs but you can google a lot on Mr. Shaughnessy and his work.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Family Time, The Best Gift

There were a few moments that I thought the beach house was going to blow off the side of the cliff but the rain that was supposed to fall consisted of typical Oregon misty rain.  It was the wind that made the rain miserable because it blew it sideways so that no matter which way one turned it would smack you in the face.  It rained enough of the time that the house remained full with six adults, five children and the dogs, a true test of it's good construction.  When the rain let up we all scrambled to get down to the beach to let the children run and dig in the sand.  We managed to make one day at low tide and did a little exploring among the rocks.  I told the "Little Terrorists" that I would pay them a dollar for every piece of beach glass they managed to find, so the excitement was high as they searched in the sand. Not one piece of glass was found but as I was wondering over the rocky surf I discovered several starfish which I introduced to the Little Terrorists before carefully replacing in their watery hiding places.

Little Terrorist #1 Taeya loved this little bright pink starfish

Adrianne with the starfish.

Our eldest son Nathan has brought three of the most wonderful young ladies into our lives, his significant other Jackie and her two daughters Aúngelle and Adrianne.

Aúngelle with the starfish just prior to its safe release. 
Taeya loves having two older "cousins" to play with.
Uncle Ian giving quality time to Little Terrorist #2 Brooklyn and "the princess" Ninja
"Little Terrorist" #3 Lucy is cutting teeth so made a rough night for Mommy Jill and Daddy Ian
Hard to call them Little Terrorists at moments like this
After everyone sang Happy Birthday to MeMa and ate some cake, Little Terrorist #2 Brooklyn was quite concerned that she had no gifts to open, to which she said, "The best gift was the pleasure of his company." I don't think he quite understood, but some day my dear grandson you too will learn to cherish a birthday weekend surrounded by those you love most.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

And a Lovely "58" You Are

"How old am I going to be this year"?

Before answering that question which in itself could lead to my demise I look at her face to see if she has "that look" or not.......but I'm safe.

I answer, "59."
"Nope, you're wrong, I am only 58."
" were born in 1953 so that makes you 59."
"NO....that only makes me 58."

Now "that look" has suddenly appeared on her face and I quickly grab my gardening hat from the corner of the lunch table.  As I rise to go back out to the greenhouse I tell her, she will be a beautiful 58 year old, one that still makes my heart race when she comes into a room.
The silence as I was leaving was almost deafening when she quietly says, "And I will always be 58."

About three years ago I had picked up a load of pea gravel in my eight foot utility trailer to top dress the floor of the greenhouse.  It was hard to maneuver the trailer so I stupidly unhitched the damn thing from my truck thinking that I would pull it the rest of the way with the single wheeled trailer puller.  Immediately after backing it off the hitch the whole thing collapsed on my right foot crushing my big toe even with shoes on.  I tried lifting it off but it was too heavy so I yelled for MeMa who was in the house.  She evidently heard the panic in my voice because the next thing I know this dynamo woman came charging out of the house, all five feet two inches of her and after grabbing hold of the tongue of the trailer she hoisted the heavy load.  She then growled in her best super human voice to get my foot out of the way before dropping it with a horrible crash.

And folks that is just one of the many reasons why if this beautiful woman I love decides she will be 58,  then 58 she is.
Happy "58th" Birthday

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

One Bad Gene

We first noticed the right leg movement to be a bit off.  When she attempted to walk up the three steps into the kitchen she lost her footing and tumbled down to the floor.  With an embarrassed look on her face she got up and climbed them slower.  MeMa called and made an appointment to have Miss Betty's teeth cleaned and mentioned that we were concerned about her right leg.  When we returned to pick her up we asked the veterinary what she thought of the leg.  I told her that she was walking off gate, dragging her nails as she swung the foot forward and stumbling a lot.  She checked her spine and leg, took an x-ray and could find nothing out of the ordinary.  Told us to take her home and give her plenty of exercise to strengthen the leg.
  A few weeks had gone by and the condition only worsened.  We took her to the beach and after letting her run on the sand we had a short walk back to the car, while toweling off the dogs before putting them in the car I noticed blood on the tarmac.  In the short walk she had taken one of her nails down past the quick from dragging it.  We made another appointment and this time they had MeMa take her out to the parking area and walk her back and forth so they could see first hand.  Dr. T then did a very thorough exam in the room and told us that she was fairly certain that it was "Canine degenerative myelopathy".  The word "degenerative" alone tells me that the outcome is not good but I had to ask anyway, "So what can we do for it?"  Knowing full well the next thing I was going to hear was "Nothing".  DM as it is referred to is a disease that is chronic and progressive, resulting in paralysis.  The onset typically between seven and fourteen years of age, the gene responsible has been found in 43 breeds including both breeds of Welsh Corgis.  We took Betty home in a cloud of silence after being handed this bitter pill.  I poured us both a drink and we took all the dogs out to the front porch were Miss Betty settled herself, a custom that she looks forward to.  Popeye and "The Little Nazi" always stand guard nervously at the porch gate but Miss Betty is too dignified for that sort of doggie nonsense and lies quietly listening to her people talk.  We discuss Betty's future, tears are spilt.
    Two weeks have passed, the swab test kit that will tell us for certain that Miss Betty has the gene arrived, completed and returned.  So now we wait for the results and as each day goes by Miss Betty's condition has gotten worse.  When she comes to a step up or down she stops and waits for us to pick her up and carry her, she no longer feels her right leg so when she runs her back end swings to the left to the point that if she didn't stop and adjust herself she would spin completely around.  She is eleven years old this year, in her youth she was a trained therapy dog.  MeMa and Betty would go to the local children's home and visit one of the residence who was autistic.  Watching Miss Betty work was wonderful as she is a nurturer and has the patience of Job.  She is so keenly in-tuned to MeMa that it seems she reads her very thoughts, her eyes never leaving MeMas face when they work.  There have been many dog's in residence at Menagerie Manor but only a few that had such a profound impact on our lives.  I don't know how long she will be able to walk but we are preparing for the future.  MeMa purchased a folding cloth wagon as next week we and the entire family are returning to the beach to celebrate MeMa's birthday.  It will be a four day affair with six adults, five children and four dogs, good thing it is a large house.  

We will be able to transport Betty in the wagon until we reach sand and then she can run as she pleases.  It could be freezing and raining but MeMa and Betty always run in the surf.  I on the other hand will be the sensible one standing on dry sand holding my ladies shoes and her dogs leash, quietly smiling as I watch them dance in the surf.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Last Harvest

For having been a slow to come summer. we certainly had a great harvest this year. We have canned, dried and frozen everything that was taken from the garden and still were able to give boxes and bags full of vegetables to friends and family who don't have the benefit of a garden.
This is one days harvest of tomato's.  "I do solemnly promise never to plant thirteen tomato plants."

I planted two varieties of potato's this year, so the root cellar is full

We have seven espaliered fruit trees, all maintained at six feet which give us enough fruit in a good year without any waste.  MeMa has put these Granny Smith to good use in pies and this weekend we will be slicing the remainder and freezing them for future pies.
The top half of this box are Fuji apples and the bottom are a Liberty/Emla cross

One crop that has done wonderful this year is cucumbers.  They have been so sweet as well,  not a bitter cuke in the lot.
I had plans of drying herbs this year,  we have made good use of most such as this basket of basil that MeMa added to the brochette.  There are still a couple of rows in the garden that could be dried but do I really want to drag that food drier back out of the cupboard?????

Thursday, October 4, 2012